“Shouldn’t get agitated no matter how tense the situation might be.” – Roland, Library of Ruina
Endless Dungeon is a roguelike hero shooter made by Amplitude and published by Sega where you play as a squad of heroes venturing deep within the confines of an abandoned space station where death isn’t permanent. Having some roguelike elements dabbling in, you can die, respawn, and go back in with the same motley squad you know doesn’t work but you still try anyway. With the game being sent to me in a CBT Steam key by my boss, let’s spare all the chatter and just get right into it.
This post was written by Hakaze
This game is a multiplayer game by heart but with enough tuning that even solo players can enjoy it by themselves. A quick summary of the core gameplay is that you play as a squad, whether controlled by just you or with your friends traversing a randomly generated dungeon, trying to get down to the lowest level, named “The Core”, to find a way out of this place. Of course, you won’t be able to just waltz in there and win, You have to protect a crystal bot so you can finally get out of the wretched labyrinth. How do you protect the crystal bot? There are a lot of ways to protect the crystal bot but the best defense is always offense!
The combat is pretty simple, Heroes can shoot with the blasters they are given and can have two different firearms at a time which they can switch at any time. Of course, when starting they are given the basic equipment and to get better guns, you need to scavenge for them, either from randomly scattered chests or from merchants stuck in the space station for who knows how long… Of course, however, some heroes can only equip light weapons, while others like Zed can only use bigger blasters just to keep it fair.
There are many weapons already unlocked from the start, including a taser, a longbow, and a gun that shoots out a ring of fire that engulfs the user. These weapons are part of the arsenal and have their elements to counter the enemies you face [more on that later]. Another key part of the heroes’ arsenal is their abilities. Zed has an AOE damage ability, Bunker has a stunning ability, and Shroom has a healing ability. They also have ultimates, which require a charge-up before being unleashed to turn the tides in your favor. For example, Bunker’s ultimate taunts enemies and absorbs the damage inflicted like a metallic sponge.
With how overpowered you sound, there must be a catch, right? There is… quite a lot. But for this one, the catch is that the lower the floor, the more likely you are to encounter gimmicks or harder enemies, which can be either annoying or hard to defeat, or sometimes even both. That is to say, it’s a good thing that the game has a difficulty curve, as I feel like going through the randomly generated dungeons unopposed would be more of a bore than a thrill.
As I said before, you traverse an abandoned space station in search of a way out with the crystal bot being the key and the core being the lock. You start in one of three possible starting floors, chosen at The Saloon, a hub if you will, each of the starting floors has a theme within them where the starting enemies are. You start in a random location on the floor you have chosen, the doors leading to either a path forward, loot, or enemies. At first, you can only start in the bottom-right tech wing, where most enemies are robotic with a few bug monsters. You’ll quickly learn their elemental weaknesses and react accordingly but don’t get too comfortable.
When navigating the space station, you will have to open doors that you have to enter to light and mark the place on the map. You can’t open a door and not enter—well, you can, but that defeats the purpose. To mark a room as explored, you must enter it, being careful as the room only slowly gets lit. In my own experience, you have to treat every room as a room with enemies in it, go in guns blazing, and just shoot as the auto-aim feature is pretty nifty when trying to clear out the dark rooms.
Entering dark rooms isn’t the only challenge, as I said before, enemy rooms, or as they are more aptly called spawn rooms are the rooms where the enemies spawn from. When do enemies spawn? Well, it’s a mixture of how many doors you open and how long you’ve been playing, sometimes enemies just spawn when they feel like it, and that gives you a heart attack since you’re underprepared and a mile away from the crystal bot that you should be protecting. With these challenges comes equal rewards, such as random chests that you can find scattered about containing upgrade materials that we’ll talk about later and sweet, sweet guns. There are also other rewards such as a medkit station where you spend resources to craft a medkit, the merchant as aforementioned before, and temporary upgrades to your characters which are also paid via resources.
So you died or let your crystal bot die, what now?
Welcome back to the Saloon! Congrats on dying. No, really. When you die, you earn upgrade materials and parts that you can spend to upgrade your guns and characters to prepare for your next run. You can also unlock quests by playing or by meeting specific requirements. Bits and bobs like lore are scattered about as well, and you can archive them at death to read at your own time if you’re curious about the game’s story. Another important aspect is that you have a chance to open up another wing upon death if you find a USB[?] thing that unlocks a teleporter to that specific wing.
Before you go in again, make sure to spend the parts you earned last run to improve your character. However, you can only equip one improvement at a time when you unlock the upgrade screen for said character. There are three upgrade slots per character: one unlocked after unlocking the character’s upgrade menu and the other two unlocked by completing the subsequent missions of the character’s quest. Another way to use your materials is to upgrade the weapon itself. Unlike characters, weapons don’t have upgrade slots. Just upgrade it and you’re good to go!
Once you’ve finally reached the core, what now? What can you do after the main goal? Replay and try different character combinations, then! Completing the game isn’t the end of it. You have to finish all the quests, unlock all the characters and their upgrades, and even 100% of the floor’s pages, secrets, and the like. Even finishing it on some runs feels much more fun than the last since you can’t say that two runs are the same.
While I am not well-versed in the language of art and the intricacies of it all, I can see quite plainly that the art style for Endless Dungeon is quite visually appealing, to quote my boss “The art design is something between Wall-E and Overwatch.” which I could honestly see as the 2.5d perspective of the camera shows that not a lot of color pops out, it’s mostly muted or drab to show a more realistic yet still sci-fi-esque design. The characters themselves are not that flashy but use more of a practical design where most, if not all that they wear have some kind of purpose, except for Zed’s massive shoulder pads which just do not look comfortable. With that said, I do love how each wing and even the Hub is designed, even if the colors of the walls are muted, the soft glow of the lights that permeate the Hub gives the player a sense of ease, a good non-verbal indicator that this is a safe space in my opinion.
The way the game looks is half of its presentation, the other half is the way the game sounds. A good example of sound design to compare it with is Dead Cells, which also succeeds in creating the right atmosphere and sound effects that make every movement feel whole, but in the case of Endless Dungeon, the ambient noises are much more tense and ominous as you are slowly exploring the dungeon that would slowly reveal itself to you, each door opening with a soft hiss as the music slowly rises until it boils over and the enemies spawn in, the soundtrack kicking in with a heavy technobeat that gives the player a sense of stress and urgency in protecting the crystal bot. After barely protecting the crystal bot, the heavy beats will die down as well, being slowly replaced with the more tense ambient sounds as you repeat the process over and over again.
I genuinely want people to play Endless Dungeon, the short time I played it was a blast even when solo as I am someone who loves micromanaging and juggling a lot of stuff to feel the thrill of it. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s for everyone… I believe that it’s more in tune for people who are in love with games like Hades and The Binding of Isaac as it’s more close relatives. And to be honest, I haven’t been completely honest as there’s also another piece to the puzzle that makes this from a Roguelike Hero Shooter to something else entirely but that is something that I want you all to experience on your own. Endless Dungeon will be available on Steam, Epic Games Store, Xbox Series X/S, PS4/PS5, and the Nintendo Switch on October 19, 2023, wishlist it here and I hope to see you all in the Saloon!